Outraged at homosexuality, but unaware of genocide, and not angered by poverty?

Posted on 03/27/14 30 Comments

You have to wonder how World Vision could be so out of touch with their constituency that they would think any policy change regarding homosexuality would be anything less than catastrophic? As soon as they lifted the ban on hiring practicing homosexuals, the response was swift as conservative evangelicals across North America vocally expressed their outrage and rallied collectively to punish World Vision. Matthew Lee Anderson, a blogger at the ironically titled website “Mere Orthodoxy”, can take at least some of the credit. One commenter in response to his article “On whether Christians should keep supporting World Vision” expresses the worst depths of self-righteous bitterness:


Over the years, I have seen many ugly comments in the blogosphere. But I have never seen a comment uglier than this: an unconscionable abandonment dressed up in obnoxious, self-righteous garb. I am not suggesting that all conservative evangelicals who decided not to support World Vision based on their changed policy share the ugly, self-righteous attitude of Sid Sorces. Nonetheless, this comment is a particularly pure distillation of the distressing inversion of values that places policy debates within an NGO on a contentious theological and ethical issue to be as of more priority than helping the poor and disenfranchised. This is tantamount to a Christian pacifist refusing to help war refugees because the Christian agency helping them does not explicitly endorse pacifism.

What about genocide…?

Just in the last few days, at the very same time that conservative evangelicals have been rallying to punish World Vision, reports have been flooding out of a developing genocide in the Central African Republic. According to reports from the United Nations and several NGOs, the last few months have seen several thousand people murdered and more than one million displaced. Yet, I am quite sure that the average North American conservative evangelical is not even aware of this horrifying situation. (Genocide? Africa? Meh. Pro-gay policy at a North American evangelical NGO? Argh!!!!)

Why is it that “homosexuality” causes a tidal wave of protest among conservative evangelicals, while “genocide” does not even create a ripple?

And poverty…?

But let’s set aside genocide and talk, instead, about a more mundane reality: poverty. According to UNICEF:

About 29,000 children under the age of five –  21 each minute – die every day, mainly from preventable causes.

More than 70 per cent of almost 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth. (source)

I recognize that many conservative evangelicals are broadly aware of the problem and working to alleviate it. And I have no intention of belittling their noble efforts. What strikes me is that there is no outrage among conservative evangelicals about the preventable deaths of thirty thousand children a day which is comparable to the outrage that sweeps like a raging Aussie brushfire at the very mention of homosexuality.

The recent World Vision fiasco does present us with grounds for a sweeping moral indictment. But that indictment is not, I think, of World Vision.

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  • Just Sayin’

    “conservative evangelicals across North America”

    Or just the U.S.? I haven’t heard a cheep about this from Canada or Mexico. Have you?

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      Yes. I initially heard about it from a Canadian friend who saw it being discussed among Canadian evangelicals on Facebook and other forms of social media.

      • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

        By the way, I won’t be commenting again until tomorrow morning in keeping with my Lenten observance.

      • http://boldcupofcoffee.com/ Drake Farmer

        I as well heard of this through my Canadian friends. Though, I suspect that that has to do more because they are influenced by writers and speakers from the States that heavily influence our more conservative culture here in Canada. Much of this attitude gets exported from the States and their polarizing lifestyle of either or. But, that is just my sense.

      • nadineharris

        Australia and New Zealand, too.

  • blank slate

    I think that many evangelicals intuit that widespread acceptance of homosexuality will be strongly correlated with widespread rejection of evangelical beliefs. If a person is convinced that gay rights, including marriage, is part of basic human rights, they are much more likely to reject beliefs which are based on scriptures which deny those rights. Gay rights is thus a life-and-death issue for conservative evangelicals. They can’t deny the fact that their beliefs are against homosexuality and they are only too aware that the general culture is moving strongly against those beliefs. Their only hope for not losing the next generation of evangelicals (which I think will prove futile in the long run) is to maintain a subculture in which gay rights does not have much traction. When evangelical institutions like WV soften their stance — many evangelicals can see the writing on the wall. Their subculture is eroding, but they don’t want to go down without a fight.

    WV (now rescinded) move can be thought of as an instance of evangelical glasnost. We all know what happened to the Soviet Union after Glasnost and Perestroika ran its course.

    • Luke Breuer

      The weird thing to me is that evangelicals ostensibly have many beliefs that would be quite beneficial for society. For example, they could be for a kind of “empowered egalitarianism”, hinted at in Mt 20:20-28 and Jn 13:1-20. The OT and NT are very focused on empowering the poor and oppressed; see for example v10 of Gal 2:6-10. The commentary on Sodom in Ezek 16:49-50 can easily be seen as a rebuke for not caring for the poor and needy, above the immorality that went on. One inference I draw from this and other passages is that much immorality is a symptom, not a cause. Fix the cause, and the symptom will dissipate. Sadly, evangelicals these days seem to care more about symptoms than causes. This is called “judging by appearances”.

      • Bob Webster

        The immorality that went on was in fact not caring for the poor and needy. Check any reference to the sin of sodom in the bible and you will see this. The other issue was that they refused to welcome the stranger, which was an inviolable obligation. The strangers in Lots house were not objects of sexual desire but foreigners to be humiliated by anal rape. The attitude was that using men as women was to make them less than women which was the bottom rung. Hence Lot offers his daughters as a substitute. The practice of anal rape as an act of humiliating your (defeated) enemy still goes on today.

        • Luke Breuer

          Yes, I have seen this. Something I haven’t found yet is whether God values caring for the stranger more, or caring for the poor and needy more. It may sound outdated today to ask that question, but Israel was supposed to keep itself pure from surrounding cultures and practices such as sacrificing children to the gods via burning them alive. So not all strangers would be automatically welcome to the Israelites.

  • Fraternite

    I think it’s pretty safe to say that Jesus was more concerned with poverty than homosexuality (even if we assume he wouldn’t support it as a 1st century Jew).

    There is something fascinating about ignoring Jesus’ own teaching on divorce but deciding to take homosexuality to the mat, so to speak.

    • RonH

      Being Evangelical has nothing to do with it. This is just human nature. We naturally lock on to what we perceive to be the deficiencies in others, particularly those we’re sure we don’t have ourselves. (For example, I’m pretty damn sure I don’t have a problem with same-sex attraction…)

      A friend of mine, who also has very young children, hit on a creative analogy. This will be gross, people: you’ve been warned! Young children are generally on very friendly terms with their own boogers. However, nothing disgusts them more than the boogers of another child. It’s not like you could tell the difference between them by examination. But mine is okay, while yours is really icky and I can’t stand it. So we are with moral failings. Or, rather, moral failings if it’s him. In my case, it’s perfectly justified — or at least not really all that bad.

      The utter breakdown of marriage commitment has caused far, far greater damage to our society than gay sex ever has or will.

      • Kerk

        Us Russians have a saying, “Our own shit doesn’t smell.”

        • Derek

          I heard about the saying applied to the French, for they are perceived as being arrogant. Are Russians perceived as arrogant too?

      • Luke Breuer

        Being Evangelical has nothing to do with it. This is just human nature.

        Jesus and the Holy Spirit are supposed to help Christians with this “human nature” thing, though. Alas:

        But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Tim 3:1-5)

      • Fraternite

        Being Evangelical has nothing to do with it. This is just human nature.

        I agree it’s completely human nature, but this particular manifestation is completely Evangelical.

        The utter breakdown of marriage commitment has caused far, far greater damage to our society than gay sex ever has or will.

        I agree with this too, for what it’s worth.

    • Bob Webster

      Jesus did talk about one sexual minority, the eunuchs. They were easily as despised by the religious people of Jesus day as gays are now. His words about them are quite affirming.

  • Guest

    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. When someone’s “rules” are more important than the love Christ tells us no commands us to share then I would suggest they are missing the mark. Tell a child you will no longer help them because the organization you are doing it through isn’t condoning something but is hiring people in same-sex relationships. I am sure they will understand…not. Whatever happened to Matthew 25…34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ I don’t remember Jesus saying to stop and ask first if they were same sex or not or if the person administering the aid was same sex or not etc.

    So sad! So misguided. So unlike Jesus.

  • Wayne Miller

    Well said. It’s been an incredible frustration of mine to follow what evangelicals get incensed about (and what they do not). I don’t get it.

  • David

    This reminds me of the infamous Tony Campolo sermon. I can’t remember if actually heard him or if I just read it. “Almost 30,000 children die every day of disease and starvation. Most of you don’t give shit. And most of you are more angry that I said shit in church than you are about the 30,000 children who die every day.”

    • nadineharris

      Thanks for that. I appreciate the truthful bite.

    • Geoff

      This is an awesome quote – so true. Sadly, so many Christians have become the self-righteous pharisees of today. BTW did you know the apostle Paul said “shit” in Philippians 3:8?

      “But indeed I also regard everything to be loss on account of the
      surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have
      suffered the loss of all things; and I consider them shit so that I may
      gain Christ”


  • Alejandro Rodríguez

    I think the problem lies in three things: the very sexual culture of the USA and living in the first world where these problems don’t really exist. Christians of whatever denomination (including my own; Catholic adoption centers have closed down just because the state they were in legalized adoption by couples of the same sex) are reacting to this, to the detriment of way more important things. You won’t see this that much in third world regions. Here the Church does not even bat an eye when there are homosexual protesters in the street, as few as they may be, and the only Christian denomination that has shown any importance to this issue is Evangelicalism, at least judging from the comments and reactions of my Evangelical friends.

    • Lyndon James

      “Another reason, at least from my perspective, is that for some Christians poverty and violence may be perceived as ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ part of society that can’t really be changed or that can be changed but at least is something that is not ‘abnormal’ or against nature, in contrast with homosexuality, which from the perspective of this people, is.”

      And when you think about it, THIS is the heart of where the problem really lies. On SOOOO many levels!

    • nadineharris

      I am afraid I will go a little further and state outright that there is a desire within these people that poverty DOES go unmitigated and unalleviated. I think it’s obvious why.

  • nadineharris

    Hear, hear! Infuriating. How can such immoral heartlessness masquerade as anything noble?

  • Bob Webster

    The Canadian and British branches do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s against the law. I want them to specifically say they will not discriminate on marriage status.
    Bob Webster

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lotharson

    I was truly dumbstruck after having read that.

    For those not knowing it, “sovereign grace” means that :

    1) God cursed us with a sinful nature and predetermined every evil action we ever did
    2) God condemned us to eternal suffering as a punishment and “graciously” picked and chose some individuals to save from this fate.

    Given such an atrocious theology, is it really stunning to see such rotten fruits such as this comment?

    If it is okay for God to predetermine many children to everlasting torture, why would it be wrong to predestine them to starve and die under an atrocious pain?

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  • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com/ Crude

    I recognize that many conservative evangelicals are broadly aware of the problem and working to alleviate it. And I have no intention of belittling their noble efforts. What strikes me is that there is nooutrage among conservative evangelicals about the preventable deaths of thirty thousand children a day which is comparable to the outrage that sweeps like a raging Aussie brushfire at the very mention of homosexuality.

    Is there comparable outrage among liberal Christians – or liberals in general – when it comes to such things? The recently appointed head of Mozilla was forced to step down due to an outcry over the fact that he donated 1000 dollars to Prop 8 in California. Should we me tut-tutting the liberals over their selective outrage?

    Wait a second, I think I know the answer. ‘It’s so heartwarming to see people care so much about Christ’s command to love one another that they will not tolerate someone with a history of supporting vile hate to be in a position of power. Conservatives could learn a thing or two from that.’ And so on, and so on.

  • Mike

    Well said, sir. You are now my very favorite Christian commentator.